Daily Archives: April 29, 2014

SOE’s New All Access Plan Up and Running

After a couple of false starts this month, Sony Online Entertainment has finally launched their new SOE All Access plan, which was announced back in late January as part of some big changes to their game lineup.

For what was once the price of a single Gold subscription you can now have premium access to a range of SOE games.

The new SOE All Access pricing

The new SOE All Access pricing

There was a time when this would have been an “OMFG must have this” deal.  Despite closures, both recent and pending, SOE still has a few games in its stable and more on the way, each of which delivers its own set of benefits should you go with the SOE All Access plan.

Not coming soon: EverQuest Next

Not coming soon: EverQuest Next

The problem, for me at least, is that my complex relationship with SOE and its games is at a point where I now get my limited fill via free.  EverQuest II is a strange place for me now, EverQuest is best left as a happy memory (at least until they launch a new progression server… maybe some day), while neither PlanetSide 2 nor DC Universe Online ever really lit a spark.  I have some mild interest in where Landmark might end up, but that is out in the future.  And H1Z1 is… I don’t know… somebody is going to have to sell me on that.

So while I applaud SOE continuing to be a leader in this area, there isn’t really any call for me to subscribe to their brand new plan at this time.

Maybe when EverQuest Next makes the “coming soon” list.

Civilization – Nuclear Terror Wins the Day!

Our fourth week of Civilization V started with a move towards peace.  Mattman and I were still at war at the start, but we didn’t have much direct contact, so he accepted my peace proposal.  I think the major change that came about with that was that the one cavalry unit I had pillaging his hinterland was evicted from his territory.  So we looked to be entering a period of economic and scientific competition.

And then problems started on my domestic front.  My real life domestic front.

Earlier in the evening I had asked if somebody had spilled something during the day, because the carpet in the family room was wet in front of the TV.  My wife, in investigating this, discovered that the water line to our refrigerator had sprung a small leak.  The fridge backs up to the same wall as the TV, and water had been leaking through for some time to the point that the carpet was wet all the way out past the TV.

Time for emergency action.

So we got to test the ability of Civ V to handle people dropping out and then returning to a multiplayer game again.  I left a world at peace that looked like this on the map.

The World - Circa 1950

The World – Circa 1950

My lands are grey, with the dark dots being cities, Potshot is cream with green city dots, Loghound is white with red city dots, Mattman is red with pink city dots, the Mayans are that bisque color with two green city dots, and the black areas are the independent city states.

After moving our TV and related devices, pulling up the carpet and the padding, my wife pulling up a couple gallons of water with a Bissell carpet shampooer, and generally attempting to get things drying while mitigating our damages, I was able to get back to the game.  A little over two hours had passed, and I returned to a world at war.

At some point, after a long period of peace, the AI running Germany declared war on everybody and drove straight into Potshot.

The AI on the move

The AI on the move

By the time I got back, Potshot was down to a single city and Mattman and I were grappling over the island off of his northern coast.

Potshot's last city

Potshot’s last city

Nuclear weapons had come onto the scene, allowing Mattman to essentially bomb me off of the island.  I got one off in return, enough to get the achievement, but not enough to change the outcome of the war.


Meanwhile, I was facing a whole series of internal issues caused by the AI.  My net happiness was at -51, so I had revolts springing up all over my empire, while production, research, and military efficiency were all way down due to discontent.  All of the little automations and queues were reset, so now I was the one running out of time with two minute turns as I tried to get my empire under control.  I was bleeding cash.  And the AI had done things like built a gigantic navy in the lake in the middle of Pangea while on the high seas I was out numbered.

I sued for peace after losing the northern island and set about trying to fix things.  I got my happiness under control and my economy running again.  The AI had sold a bunch of improvements in cities in order to keep itself funded, including seemingly anything that made people happy.

And so we ran for a little bit.  The Mayans were gone, Potshot had his one city, Loghound had a small empire, but was still far behind when it came to the score, and Mattman and I were pretty much neck and neck.  I built the United Nations, which allowed us to try to elect a world leader, one of the victory conditions.  But you cannot vote for yourself.  So even though Mattman and I both voted for Loghound, our allied city states voted for us, meaning nobody obtained enough votes to win through that route.

With the space race uncertain… I couldn’t seem to get my ship to assemble… and other paths to victory were looking unlikely… nobody was close on culture or religion, and there was no way anybody was going to conquer the world this late in the game… we were clearly competing on score, and that would only matter on the last turn.

War opened up again with about 30 turns left to go.  I cannot recall who started it, but I am going to blame Mattman, since I was ahead in the score.  The periphery of my own empire was pretty close to his core, so I had to stay on the defensive after trying to bring some units to bear on him piecemeal.  Potshot signed a defensive pack with Mattman, along with an open boarders agreement, allowing him free access into my territory.  That could not stand, so I… and Loghound by mistake… declared war on Potshot.  After some messing about, I eventually drove on his city with a giant death robot (the final upgrade to the armor line) and Chuck Hestonia was mine.

This knocked Potshot out of the game, both literally and figuratively.  He was kicked and sent to the “You lose” screen while the game had to deal with the host having left.  It piled hosting duties on me for my sins, which caused the game to slow down considerably for a couple of turns while it tried to sort this out.

Mattman had been unleashing his nuclear arsenal on me while that was going on.  I had no comparable stockpile (AI built 20 ships in a lake, but no nukes!) and was not well positioned to deliver it even if I had.  Mattman had begun pounding my front line city, Samsun with nukes.

Samsun being terror bombed

Samsun being terror bombed

He managed to create a glowing wasteland around the city before finally extinguishing it.

Samsun wiped out

Samsun wiped out

At turn 325 I was still holding onto a narrow lead.


But attacks on Chuck Hestonia and a nuclear submarine attack on my west coast managed to push my score down through simple population loss, so that I fell behind by turn 327.


Mattman was set to win, ready to claim victory over a nuclear wasteland of a world.

Chuck Hestonia nuked and open

Chuck Hestonia nuked and open

When turn 330 hit, we were all dropped into the standard end game interface, which was “You Win!” for Mattman and “You Lose!” for Loghound and I.  I was a bit bummed that it didn’t come out and give us the final score for a multiplayer game right there on the first screen.  After all, that seems the obvious question.  But in all the graphs you can view, there is one that shows the scores throughout the game.

Who won?

Who won?

I thought one of the more interesting graphs was the happiness differential.

Excess Happiness Charted

Excess Happiness Charted

You can see where I was playing, then where I handed things over to the AI, which went for maximum happiness.  And then it declared war and went to a -51 happiness differential, after which I came back and got things back on a happier plane, if not as happy as things once were.

Final Demographics

Final Demographics

Overall, the game went well and seemed sustainable over multiple weeks.  We are going to give it another run on a bigger map with more AI players (and a couple observer slots so people kicked from the game can get back in and watch) and possibly one of the slower time rates, on the theory that with less to do per turn, the timer won’t be as likely to get in the way.

And, finally, a short gallery of the map situation over the course of the game.

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The gallery was made by dissecting an animated .GIF file that Loghound created showing the map over the course of the game.  It is over 12MB is size, so I didn’t want to put it in the main post, but if you want to see if I believe this link will take you there. (It is somewhere in G+, so who knows if that link will work reliably or not.)

It runs a bit quickly, and is too big to edit with any of the animated .GIF editors I could find, which is why I pulled out individual frames. (I wanted to slow down the time between frames.)  Oddly, neither PaintShop Pro X3 nor PhotoShop Elements could pull frames from the .GIF file, but the Mac OS image preview app did it without me even asking.  There might be a better tool out there for that sort of thing, but this was my first experience doing anything besides look at an animated .GIF.

Thanks to Loghound for creating that!  That wraps up 9 hours and 39 minutes of game time (According to the end stats, but that number seems low to me. I would expect it to be closer to 12 hours after four evenings of about 3 hours each.) in about six seconds.

The past entries in the series for this game: